Subscriber Carolyn Waterson wrote with questions about spam and emails with malware potential that she was receiving from a friend who didn’t practice safe computing:
I have a rather elderly friend whose computer keeps sending out obscene things and Viagra ads. They appear to be going to everybody in his address book!
He assures me HE is not sending them – someone is hacking into his Email and he refuses to do anything about it. I no longer will open any Emails from him, although I now keep getting messages from Facebook that this person has invited me to join this or that, and I can’t tell until I’ve opened the Email that it is a message from him.
I have AVG on my computer and have never had a message that they have caught or quarantined any of these.
I’m concerned that whatever has got into his computer is now into mine and these things will be going out from my computer also! Could this be the case — and what do I do to ensure that it does not happen?
The most helpful thing Carolyn can do for her friend is to download the current version of one of the antivirus programs and its current definitions, and then visit her friend to install it on his computer.
I remember working on a computer club member’s PC back in about 2006 at one of our PC Tune Up fund-raising sessions. He ran Norton Antivirus. Never ran his computer without it running. It never found any problem, either. But, it was a 1998 version of Norton Antivirus and he had never purchased any antivirus signature update subscription.
I ran one of the free antivirus programs and found a pot full of nasties on his computer. No wonder it was running so slow.
Carolyn could check out his computer. She could install a 30-day trial of commercial programs like ESET Smart Security 4 or VIPRE Antivirus Premium on his computer, even if just to perform the initial scans for problems. Of course, he’d have to purchase a license to keep using either after the trial expired. Or, she could install one of the free antivirus packages.
As far as her own computer, Carolyn needs to run two types of programs to address the issues above.
First, she needs to be running a good, always-running antispyware & antivirus program. Depending on which version of AVG she has, she might have one. However, I haven’t used AVG in so long that I don’t have any opinion about how well it performs. I would use VIPRE Antivirus Premium or ESET Smart Security 4. (I use VIPRE Antivirus Premium).
Personally, I do not like the free antivirus programs because the vendors have too much incentive to guide you to purchasing the paid versions — which sometimes includes providing updates on the latest virus signatures later to free subscribers than to paid subscribers. Also, vendors who supply free versions usually limit your license to use the free version on only one computer (AVG does this).
The other thing she needs is a good anti-spam program. Some of the suites provide this. You can also use independent programs like PopFile (my choice, free, getpopfile.org) or Mailwasher Pro (commercial), which allows you to preview your email while it is still on the mailserver before it gets to your computer!
With these, she can have programs that filter emails based on content.